21 Lessons Learned from My First Year of Blogging (Part 2)

21 Lessons Learned from My First Year of Blogging (Part 2).

21 Lessons Learned from My First Year of Blogging (Part 2)

Last week I began covering what I have learned from my first year of blogging. To be true to the “keep it short” maxim for blogging, I am continuing my discussion in this post. To read the first part, click here.

This leads me to lesson #9:

9)  Be yourself. I am a professional writer and communicator, but I have other interests as well. My blog on making Thanksgiving dinner reflects the importance of knowing your audience even though the theme was not directly professional. My blogs sometimes get personal. Let readers get to know you. This is, after all, social media.

10) Find out what people care about and write about it. Of course, this is part of knowing your audience, which is the most important first step towards enhancing communication. My blogs on social media and workers’ compensation generated the most hits. Whenever I cover workers’ compensation, I am sure to get at least 300 hits in the first week – not bad for a one-person effort. Google hits on workers’ compensation topics I covered six months ago.

11) Don’t write for search engines. Write for people. I never did include fancy coding to get the attention of Google and other search engines. Since I focus on providing substance, Google delivers hits to my blog daily. Google and other search engines are also programmed to avoid too many attention-getting devices and strategies as well.

12) Make sure your tags are consistent and manage them well. I recently went through all my blogs and found areas where I forgot to tag or where two terms can mean the same thing. Do this from time to time.

13) Refer readers to your other pertinent blogs on the same or relating subject. This is not just a service to your readers who want more information. It also encourages Search Engine Optimization.

14) Use other social media outlets to drive readership. After reviewing my blogs, I located statements I can tweet to encourage blog readership. It’s OK to post tweets on blogs you ran a while ago if the information is still current. This is also an excellent way to reach new readers.

15) Effective bloggers are passionate about their topics. Write passionately and you will attract an audience. Want to see passion? Check out my blog on my new” IBM Selectric.

16) Write evergreen blogs for those busy times. Make a list of topics you want to cover and start a folder with notes and information so you are always ready. Develop a “bank” of pre-written blogs.

17) That said, while you need to write regularly, search engines and your followers will forgive you if you take a break. Between vacationing, moving into a new home in August, getting married and client work, I did not have time to blog. I don’t believe it suffered because there was already a lot of published content.

Stay tuned until next week when I finish my series on 21 Lessons Learned from My First Year of Blogging.

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21 Lessons Learned from My First Year of Blogging (Part 1)

This week marks the one-year anniversary of my first blog. Experts say blogging is very important for expanding your social media presence, which supports other marketing efforts. But I wanted to try it myself so I could give clients a first-hand perspective on whether it is worth it. I am convinced blogging has helped my business by increasing access to my audience and the opportunity to showcase my expertise.

Fruits of my blog include:

  • New business relationships
  • Inquiries from potential clients
  • Expansion of my social network
  • Highlighting my work and expand on my established position.
  • Re-establishing myself as an insurance expert, especially about workers’ compensation. I have been a known workers’ compensation media expert for years from my reporting on the subject. Social media allow me to reach new audiences.

Blogging experts have developed commandments for blogging. Write regularly, don’t quit blogging or take a break, write about what you know, etc. These are good rules of thumb, but my own experience has taught me the following:

1)    Don’t start with Google’s Blogger. That is, of course, unless you don’t mind that Google owns your content and can pull it at anytime or you don’t mind being limited by graphic options. Using WordPress involves a steep learning curve but is well worth it. It also allows me more options graphically and I retain content ownership. You can read more about this here.

2)    Just get started. My colleague Peter Aartrijk kept encouraging me to start blogging and I wondered if I was really ready or not. I just jumped in and started and learned from there.

3)    Know why you are blogging and your audience. I began my blog to get my name and expertise out in cyber land. I wrote about topics my audience cares about. It worked. Becoming known in your industry is the first step in attracting potential customers. My blog accomplished this.

4)    Blogs require a large commitment of time and energy. As a sole proprietor and mother, I am constantly confronted by multiple priorities; I had several other distractions – such as children and clients — that made blogging difficult. Blogging also became a priority and I have no regrets. No time to blog? Hire someone already doing it.

5)    Encourage guest bloggers. Another approach when you don’t have time to blog: run the blogs of trusted colleagues and everyone benefits. Sharing expertise from other sources provides diversity of insight.

6)    Thank those who mention your blog on their blogs. I can’t think of a better compliment than other bloggers referring to one of my blog posts. Be sure to thank them, business etiquette is rare and so it goes a long way towards fostering stronger business relationships.

7)    Keep it short. You have to have a hot and compelling topic to post a long blog. Usually, it is best to write what you believe a subject deserves and then shorten anything beyond 500 to 600 words into continuing blogs. This blog is about 555 words. This raises my next point:

8)    Write to your heart’s content and then cover a topic with a series. I have a lot to say on this topic, so it will be covered more next week!

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What’s In A Name? More Than You Think

When Romeo’s lover waxed poetic about “what’s in a name” and the sweet smell of the rose, she did not have to worry about the practicalities of changing hers from Capulet to Montague. Back then, word would spread quickly in closely knitted communities. Changing a name today is far more complicated than the rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues.

I know. I got married last weekend and my new last name is Baribeau. Informing government agencies like the Social Security Administration is a cake walk compared to getting the word out in cyberspace. With more than 300 articles published under my former last name, which I used for 17 years, I wonder how long it will take Google to figure out that Annmarie Geddes Lipold is also Annmarie Geddes Baribeau.

Many brides with professional careers especially struggle with what their names should be after they are married. Some stick to their maiden names only to find this causes confusion socially, especially after having children, who tend to have the last name of their father. These women often end up using their husband’s last name socially to avoid confusion.

Surprisingly, there is little information available on how to efficiently let your professional world know about a name change, which has everything to do with personal branding. Yes, changing it on social media is easy, but who gets your message has a lot to do with how much they use social media in the first place. LinkedIn postings get buried pretty quickly if you have a large network.

Some experts say you need to convey a message seven times before people remember it. My plan is to re-tweet and post several LinkedIn messages, including my groups, announcing my name change hoping that my network gets the message. Being redundant and sending personal messages to your network are critical for getting message out. Of course I will also be sending emails as well.

Surprisingly, there is little information available on how to efficiently let your professional world know about a name change, which has everything to do with personal branding.

Changing a business name is even harder. It requires you to dust off your business plan and go through the branding process. Thoughtful and effective re-branding requires a great deal of consideration and the logistical details that are as complicated as moving and planning a wedding in two months, which I did!

For now, I am keeping my company as Lipold Communications. My new company name will reflect what my company offers instead of using my last name.

Your advice, feedback and experience about changing your professional name halfway through your career years are most welcome. Please post them in the comments section. Thanks!

In the meantime, you can still reach me as always at annmarie@lipoldcommunications.com.

Predictive Modeling ‘s Impact on Agents and Brokers—and Their Clients

Predictive modeling pieces together data in new ways

Predictive modeling pieces together data in new ways. (Thanks to steve.kargs.net for the pic.)

Leader’s Edge magazine just published my article on how predictive modeling will affect agents and brokers who sell commercial insurance – and their customers. The article, Modeling the Futureexplains how agents and brokers who invest in their own predictive models can see significant returns on their bottom line.

Many agents and brokers are already being affected by the predictive models of the insurance companies they represent. To a greater extent, predictive modeling reveals the true risk of employers. Some agents’ customers will see price improvements while others will experience the opposite. Insurers also need to do a better job informing their agents of how they are using the models so agents can respond appropriately.

Those who adapt quickly will do well, those who do not will be left behind.

Agents and brokers with the interest and resources to invest in their own predictive models will be able to offer better products and services. My article features one company that is increasing revenue by improving the value proposition of workers’ compensation products and services with predictive modeling.

Some agents bristle at the technology, but predictive modeling is here to stay. Those who adapt quickly will do well, those who do not will be left behind.

I hope you enjoy this last article under my current byline. Since I am getting married this Saturday, my future byline will be Annmarie Geddes Baribeau.

If you want to read more about predictive modeling, please check out the “predictive modeling” section under “topics.”